Australia’s longest road tunnel opens

By Josephine Sargent | November 7, 2013

Under the cover of darkness, after years of hearing about the progress of machines Matilda and Florence as they munched their way underneath the Brisbane River, keen motorists were finally able to drive their chosen automobiles through the longest road tunnel in Australia.

Under the cover of darkness, after years of hearing about the progress of machines Matilda and Florence as they munched their way underneath the Brisbane River, keen motorists were finally able to drive their chosen automobiles through the longest road tunnel in Australia.

I left the steamy clutches of Brisbane in August to join the Australian Geographic family in downtown Sydney. I am pretty sure that not a day went by since 2006 – when the tunnelling project began – that the metro newspaper I worked for didn’t provide some kind of update on the project. The people of Brisbane were excited, none more so than the thousands of commuters who make the arduous daily commute from the Gold Coast… often allowing up to two hours for the 50 km trip.

This enthusiasm among the good people of Brisneyland was evident at the open day, held on 26 February, in the sweltering heat as hundreds of thousands of punters descended on the tunnel to walk its 4.8 km length, take photos and chat to engineers. Not because of the scenery — just to say they’d walked through this monument, proof that Brisbane was joining the big league and rubbing infrastructure shoulders with Sydney and Melbourne. I dragged my dad along, who is also an engineer and whose first project had been a tunnel, and it was amazing to see what the team had achieved and to – lazily – take a bus along the underground road.

So, as dorky as it sounds, I am sad that I wasn’t in Brissie to get a clan together and navigate the Clem7 tunnel, blasting Powderfinger at ear-deafening levels with the windows down, along a road 60 m below flowing water.

Josephine Sargent is chief sub-editor of Australian Geographic.